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Download The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan Audiobook, by Gregory Feifer Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (140 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gregory Feifer Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2009 ISBN: 9781400180578
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The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a grueling debacle that has striking lessons for American foreign policy today. In The Great Gamble, Gregory Feifer examines the war from the perspective of the soldiers on the ground. During the last years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union sent some of its most elite troops to unfamiliar lands in Central Asia to fight a vaguely defined enemy, which eventually defeated their superior number with unconventional tactics. Although the Soviet leadership initially saw the invasion as a victory, many Russian soldiers came to view the war as a demoralizing and devastating defeat, the consequences of which had a substantial impact on the Soviet Union and its collapse. 

Feifer’s extensive research includes fascinating interviews with participants from both sides of the conflict. In gripping detail, he vividly depicts the invasion of a volatile country that no power has ever successfully conquered. Parallels between the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are impossible to ignore: Both conflicts were waged amid vague ideological rhetoric about freedom. Both were roundly condemned by the outside world for trying to impose their favored forms of government on countries with very different ways of life. And both seem destined to end on uncertain terms. The Great Gamble tells an unforgettable story full of drama, action, and political intrigue whose relevance in our own time is greater than ever.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Tracing the arc of the Soviets’ military disillusionment in Afghanistan, Feifer, who is an NPR reporter in Moscow, provides essential historical background to the present war in Afghanistan.”


  • “Feifer’s thoughtful, deliberative use of eyewitness testimony gives an intensely close-up sense of what the war was like for those who fought it.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “This is a provocative and important book, telling us what the Soviet military was thinking and feeling as it lost its war in Afghanistan. Gregory Feifer vividly shows that their campaigns there amounted to a manual of how not to do it.”

    Thomas Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Gamble

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 2/20/2014

    " Great, short history of the Soviets in Afghanistan. Feifer identifies the major problems with the Soviet effort and why they pulled out in 1989. Much like the American experience in Vietnam, the Soviets spent a disparate amount of men and money on a country that they never were really able to control beyond the cities. The weakness of the DRA from the outset also hurt the entire effort. When Soviet funding ceased, the DRA's downfall was only a matter of time. Highly recommended, especially if you're interested in the ISAF experience and the future of Afghanistan after 2014. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert | 1/30/2014

    " A very good description of the Soviet War in Afghanistan. I learned many things about how not to fight a counter-insurgency. It was refreshing to hear the war through the eyes of the Soviet veterans who treated similarly to those returning from Vietnam. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason Holderieath | 1/20/2014

    " I was vaguely familiar with the Afghan side of the story, this was my first exposure to the Russian side aside from an officemate. I loved the personal stories of the participants. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 1/11/2014

    " amazing, you could substitute USA for USSR and the book reads like current day, granted the USSR soldier's were far more ruthless than I our guys. REally good book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 TC | 12/6/2013

    " Unsure so far, given the fact that the author is an NPR correspondent. Looks to be interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul Medici | 11/8/2013

    " Just finished. Good. But does not go that deeply into the whole thing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebecca | 7/8/2013

    " Not easy reading for someone not gifted in military strategy, but a very interesting perspective that could and should inform the U.S. as it is engaged in the very same area with very similar goals. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Page | 9/26/2012

    " A quick book focusing on the buildup and builddown of the war which claimed a million Aghanistis and up to 75,000 Soviets. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 2/23/2012

    " Where Empires Go To Die "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex | 6/10/2011

    " Good job of telling the story of the Soviet invasion and progression of the war, mixed in with a lot of fascinating stories about life as a Soviet soldier. Fascinating read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane | 2/2/2011

    " Thorough, well-researched book about the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The book covers the Soviets' expectations in starting this war, and the ways in which those expectations unravelled. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Usman W. Chohan | 8/10/2009

    " What a delightfully grasping account of perhaps the most important war since WWII. Thoroughly gripping, and conscious of the agendas of all the key parties in the conflict. New players in the Afghan arena would do well to read this tome. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Atif Leo | 7/14/2009

    " Good incisive look at the complex issue of Russian invasion and the ultimate downfall. The author has written good accounts of various engagements and battles. Inferences can be drawn to relate the same with the present state of USA's involvement and the precarious situation being confronted. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jfarley | 7/4/2009

    " A little thin in some parts, but seeing as how it's based on Soviet accounts of what happened, the book is quite an achievement. "

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About the Author

Gregory Feifer is the former Moscow correspondent for National Public Radio. He was educated at Harvard University and lives in Prague with his wife, Elizabeth, and son, Sebastian.

About the Narrator

Robertson Dean has played leading roles on and off Broadway and at dozens of regional theaters throughout the country. He has a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from Yale. His audiobook narration has garnered numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he works in film and television in addition to narrating.